Jonathan Fortenberry: Keeping Calm and Carrying On: How a Green and Red marker can make your day easier.


If you’ve been following along, I’ve written about insurance coverages that are important to horse owners, the state of the insurance world right now, and how to grow your horse business and the industry as a whole. Today, I’m going to step back and talk about peace of mind.

Typically when an insurance guy talks about peace of mind, the topic is life insurance, a retirement plan, or the right coverages on your home and autos.  I want you to know that life insurance is important, you should have it, and I can help.  But for today’s purposes, peace of mind is about keeping your sanity while balancing your horse hobby, habit, or business with the rest of your life. 

Like many of you, I have a family.  My wife Lauren and my son Drew have walked this crazy road with me for over a decade.  They’ve seen what it takes to love a business owner, and I’m pretty sure at times they’ve wondered how much more it would cost.  It’s probably the same for you.  Your horses need you, the business needs to run, the shows are scheduled, the weather is coming, and everything has to fall into balance with family commitments, social engagements, church, and your job outside of horses.

So let’s talk about keeping our minds in a great place and making sense of all that is asked of us.  For me, it’s a green and red fine point pen or marker and a black pen. Green for go and red for stop.  You can use any two colors you like, but those are mine.  Those markers and some sort of planner make all the difference in the world.  Here are the steps I take to help me keep it all together.

The most important things I have are my family and my faith.  So those items get first dibs on my calendar.  Go ahead and grab an extra color pen, like black, and square off anything that is non-negotiable for them.  Daddy-daughter dances, mother-son nerf wars, seeing the grand babies, etc.  Write them in and block them off.  Now that the most important stuff is there, we can get back to our Green and Red times.

Green is anything that moves what I’m passionate about forward.  My absolute favorite part of my job is spending time with people like you.  Leaning against a fence post, sitting in the barn, riding on the side by side looking at property, all of it.  It’s my favorite.  It’s where relationships are built and ultimately where my most rewarding business moments come from.  So hanging out with you gets a green square blocking out our time together.  For you, this could look like scheduling vet visits, researching the show calendar, or loping around the arena.  Time in the saddle, or making the next time in the saddle better, it is a green time block.  Most of your time outside of the non-negotiables needs to be spent in the green.

Red is anything that doesn’t move what I’m passionate about forward, but is still necessary.  I absolutely can’t stand preparing my end of month stuff for my accountant.  I love my accountant, but I hate getting stuff together.  It’s definitely a red time!  I have to do it, but it doesn’t move me forward.  I’m sure you can think of more than a few examples of your own red times.

Now that we have the premise down, I’d encourage you to go ahead and get all of your tasks out of your brain and on to some paper.  Getting things together on a list will help you free up the brain space to process all the decisions you have in front of you.  I’ll give you a bit of a heads up.  The list will probably look daunting at first and you might wonder why you started writing a list to begin with, but all that stuff was running around loose in your head and now you’re wrangling it. So good job!

Grab your green marker that moves you forward and circle all the stuff that you get the most value from.  That’s where the fun is.  Next, circle all the stuff that doesn’t move you forward in red.  That’s stuff that has to be done but is probably not fun at all.  Falling back on my last article, ask yourself if you know someone that would be really great at handling those red tasks for you.  Would referring or hiring those tasks out to someone free up more time for you to do the green things?  I bet it would!

If you’re anything like me, you’d rather get the worst of it over and done with and then enjoy the rest of your day.  Now that we have our list of tasks and we know which ones are black, green, and red, let’s get to scheduling.  First write in your non-negotiables.  Then find the time in your day where you have the most brain power and energy.  Commit to knocking out some of the reds each day during the time where you have the most ability to do them.  Trying to do a red when you’re already tired is no good.  Dependable smaller blocks of time each day will get this list knocked out for you.  Once you get these scheduled, you can enjoy the rest of your time in the green.  Greens are easier on your brain and the time flies by faster.  So let’s have as much green as possible.

Studies show that planning out your next day before you go to bed can help you sleep better.  That’s going to give you more energy.  You’re going to get more stuff done and feel better about it.  Your health is going to love you for this.  Like anything, it’s going to be work in progress, but any progress is still progress.  I’ve really enjoyed the last few issues writing for you all.  I hope to see you around soon.  Call me and I’ll write you in my planner and circle it in green (John Deere green at that!)

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